Safety Analysis & Promotion Division


FAA oversight processes have contributed to an outstanding safety record. As we strive to make the skies as safe as possible and anticipate future needs and challenges, the FAA continues to evolve its approach to safety oversight. To best target oversight priorities and FAA’s oversight resources, the FAA has transitioned to a robust risk-based, data-supported oversight system.

To support Flight Standards Service (FS) through this transition, FS established the System Approach for Safety Oversight (SASO) Program Office (PO), an Aviation Safety (AVS) level program, to develop and implement a comprehensive system safety approach to the certification and oversight of aviation entities. The goal is to improve safety beyond current levels by enhancing Risk-Based Decision Making (RBDM) practices and initiatives.

SASO is responsible for the FAA’s Safety Assurance System (SAS). SAS is the combination of people, processes, and technology and is the safety assurance component of the Safety Management System (SMS).

What is SASO?

SASO is the System Approach for Safety Oversight: a program maintained by the SASO Program Office, sponsored by the Flight Standards Executive Director (AFX-1), and is a Capital Investment Program approved and overseen by a Congressional Joint Resource Council.

SASO History

Since its inception in 2002, the SASO PO has worked to develop and implement a comprehensive, integrated system safety approach to the oversight of all aviation entities. SAS, a SASO product, is designed to create a single oversight tool for FS where all work can be planned, tracked, and resourced based on the principles of data-supported RBDM and Risk-Based Resource Targeting (RBRT). The RBRT process employs a standardized, data-supported, risk-based methodology to assist in establishing work priorities and allocating resources. The objective of SAS is to transform FS and the aviation industry to a national standard of system safety based on SMS principles.

This work is in alignment with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Safety and Recommended Practices (SARPs) regarding implementing a system safety approach for civil aviation authorities in its member states. As FS continually upgrades and expands SAS, it continues to support ICAO’s SARPs.

What work does the SASO PO do?

The SASO PO works in four main areas and in coordination with other AVS Lines of Business, FS Program Offices, and Subject Matter Experts (SMEs).

  • Business Process Re-Engineering (BPR) – Support the redesign of current processes using cross-functional teams who integrate system safety principles within these redesigned processes and is available to assist all AVS Lines of Business to meet their business needs.
  • Systems Alignment – Ensure tools and technologies are designed in support of these oversight processes.
  • Enterprise Architecture (EA) – Integrate the tools and processes into the AVS-wide enterprise management.
  • Change Management (CM) – Apply structured processes and tools to manage the people side of change from the current state to the future state so the desired results of the change are achieved.

What is the SASO PO doing now?

The SASO PO is managing the development of SAS in five phases, as shown below. It is currently working on the changes planned for Phase 4.

Support teams and subject matter experts are now developing the next generation of SAS — SAS Phase 4 — which will integrate new functionalities, interfaces, and systems into SAS to save time, enhance productivity, and standardize workflows. In addition, the SASO PO also: 

  • Practices and implements change management activities to meet the needs of the FS and Office of Hazardous Materials Safety (AXH) workforce
  • Evaluates feedback submitted by the workforce to improve SAS 
  • Sponsors and conducts SAS User Forums; solicits feedback and input to assist in continual improvement

This office manages and supports continual improvement initiatives for:

  • SAS Automation/Policy
  • National Program Guidelines (NPG)
  • Certification Services Oversight Process (CSOP)
  • Data Collection Tools (DCTs)

The SASO PO is comprised of the following teams:

  • Automation and Policy Team – Develops, deploys, and maintains software requirements, automation user guides, systems-based oversight for SAS, NPG, and CSOP, and authors national oversight policy guidance.
  • Technical Support Team – Develops, authors, and maintains data collection quality standards and plans and implements Certificate Holders’ configuration enhancements for the SAS DCTs and creates National/Divisional/Custom DCTs at the direction of the Safety Standards Office.
  • Safety and Compliance Team – Maintains responsibility for the continued implementation of the Compliance Program within FS. The Compliance Program provides the overarching guidance for the FAA’s approach to adherence to safety standards, such as regulatory requirements. The Safety and Compliance Team is responsible for the policy, messaging, training, and monitoring of the Compliance Program. In addition, the team works to promote the program to individuals and operators overseen by FS.
  • Communications and Outreach Team –Guides SAS users to adapt to SAS-related changes. The team provides information and tools to help SAS users develop an awareness of, interest in, and the knowledge of changes, so they can more easily adjust to the changes and realize their benefits.
Last updated: Thursday, November 16, 2023